Coming off a bump in the road with loss at McGregor, Class 3A, DII Clifton Cubs look to reset against the Millsap Bulldogs with third straight road game in preparation for district play
Venturing into uncharted territory can be a good place to face unexpected challenges. And in the process, a team can learn a lot about itself, even if it does not result in victory.
Riding a two-game winning streak, the Clifton Cubs ran into a road block in the midst of their three-game road show when they visited McGregor last Friday night as the Bulldogs wore down the Cubs and ran away with a convincing 35-7 victory at Bulldog Stadium.
“We knew McGregor would be a challenge for us,” Clifton football head coach Brent Finney said. “They have some really good size up front on both sides of the ball, and a really talented running back.”
Indeed. McGregor junior running back Sebastian Torres did most of the damage against the Cubs, rushing for a season-high 177 yards and three touchdowns to spearhead the win for the Bulldogs (2-2).
This week, the Cubs (2-2) will play third straight road game, traveling to Millsap to take on the Class 3A, DII Bulldogs (1-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bulldog Stadium. Although Millsap knocked off Hamilton, 20-7, in its season opener, the Bulldogs have dropped back-to-back games, losing to Henrietta, 45-39, Sept. 1 before falling to Class 3A, DI’s seventh-ranked Paradise, 49-7, last Friday night.
Coming into the season, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football picked Millsap to contend for a playoff berth in District 5-3A, DII behind previously state-ranked Comanche (3-1) and undefeated Jacksboro (4-0).
“Millsap will again have some bigger linemen that will be challenging for us,” Finney said. “They have a dynamic quarterback that we must contain as well. We will have to sustain some drives offensively and limit the big play on defense.”
Throughout the game against McGregor, the swarming Clifton defense would bottle up Torres more often than not. But just when the Bulldogs needed it most, Torres found an avenue to race past the Cubs for a big gain.
McGregor took control of the game early, but only managed to build a 13-0 lead as the Cub defense kept Clifton within striking distance until late in the game. After surrendering the early touchdown, the Cub defense bent but didn’t break for most of the first three quarters to keep Clifton in the game, allow the Bulldogs to only tack on two field goals before late in the game.
While Torres proved tough to bring down, McGregor quarterback Bubba Zacharias hit on some key third down conversions. Connecting with senior Joseph Arnold on a 40-yard scoring strike, Zacharias completed nine of 15 passes for 120 yards as the Bulldogs accumulated 300 yards of total offense.
“Our defense did a pretty good job keeping Torres bottled up most of the night,” Finney said. “But we were unable to get any consistent drives going on offense, which made the defense have to play too many snaps. We can’t give a guy like that extra chances.”
Defensively, junior Brody Baggett led Clifton with 12 tackles, followed by senior Roley Finney with 11, senior Andres Devora with eight, as well as seniors Ervin Rodriguez and Royer Lopez with seven each.
Aside from an impressive second half drive to pull within six in the third quarter, the Cub offense struggled to put anything together, and untimely penalties hurt at key moments to stall potential drives. As a result, Clifton managed only 130 yards of total offense as junior quarterback Joaquin De La Hoya led the Cubs with 53 yards rushing on seven carries but completed only two of nine passes for six yards.
Finney scored Clifton only touchdown on a 34-yard run and finished with 44 yards rushing on only four attempts. The big and swarming Bulldog defensive front closed down the running lanes, limiting senior running back Parker Tunnell to only two yards on nine carries.
“We must continue to improve our blocking in all phases,” Finney said. “And we must be able to sustain some drives and give our defense some rest.”
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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